yacht racing Luxury Yacht & Superyacht News

Act 2 of the 2012 Extreme Sailing Series, April 17-20, Qingdao, China

April 12, 2012
Act 2 of the 2012 Extreme Sailing Series™ is fastly approaching with less than one week until the iconic city of Qingdao welcomes the nine racing international teams. The fleet will go head-to-head from the 17 to 20 April as the Series returns to the 2008 Olympic venue for the second consecutive year, a venue that lends itself perfectly to the stadium style competing.

Extreme Sailing Series 2012. Act 1. Oman Credit Lloyd Images

Extreme Sailing Series 2012. Act 1. Oman Credit Lloyd Images

The Omani-flagged teams Oman Air and The Wave, Muscat have the advantage as they head toChina, having scored a one-two respectively on their home waters during the opening round of the Series. Morgan Larson and his Oman Air crew snatched the win from Pierre Pennec’s men on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild during the final race of the final day, and for pre-season favourite Pennec, the gloves are well and truly off.

“Last year I entered into Act 2 in Qingdao too conservatively. This year, it will be different. To be ahead of the game we will need to take some risks. The level of the fleet will be surely higher than what we saw in Muscat a few weeks ago.” Pennec continued, “Qingdao is a very interesting playing field that demands that every opportunity is seized and to be versatile.”

Qingdao holds some very vivid memories for many of the sailors, many of who represented their nations on these waters at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Amongst them is Red Bull Sailing Team skipper and double Olympic gold medallist Roman Hagara, who has fond memories of sailing in Qingdao. “I am looking forward to the race in Qingdao. It is like a second hometown for me. We spent a month in China before the Olympic Games for training on the Tornado, and it was great to participate at the Olympics of course.”

Extreme Sailing Series 2012. Act 1.The Wave Muscat. OmanCredit: Lloyd Images

Extreme Sailing Series 2012. Act 1.The Wave Muscat. Oman Credit: Lloyd Images

Red Bull Sailing Team was one of four teams to capsize in Qingdao in 2011, during an unprecedented day that has become one of the most memorable in the history of the Series. Ian Williams and the British GAC Pindar were also amongst those to fall victim to the extraordinary conditions in Fushan Bay as Williams remembered, “Qingdao threw everything at us last year and consequently was a huge learning experience for the whole team. This year we will be much better prepared for whatever comes our way.”

Williams and the team put in a solid performance during Act 1, finishing in fifth place, and is optimistic they have more to give. Williams continued, “Last year Luna Rossa won the Qingdao Act after finishing fifth in Oman which shows that things can turn around fast and certainly we’ll be looking for an improvement from our Oman finishing position.”

The public is expected to be out in force during the public days (18-20 April) supporting Chinese sailors Kit Cheng and Xiaqun Song onboard local boat China Team. A 2008 Olympian in the Yngling class, Xiaqun is one of only two women competing – the other is Britain’s Rachel Williamson on The Wave, Muscat – and as a Qingdao resident, Xiaqun had some local insight to share with the fleet.

Red Bull Extreme Sailing capsized

Red Bull Extreme Sailing capsized in Qingdao in 2011

“Last year a few boats had problems during one windy day, but I would say mostly it will be light and tricky weather again this time. I was on the Race Committee boat last year and everybody gets a chance to lead the fleet because the conditions vary so they can favour different teams at different times. The racing takes place close to shore which gives an excellent view for the public.”

There will be a few new faces on the start line in Qingdao as four of the teams announce crew changes. Regular Alinghi crew Pierre-Yves Jorand from Switzerland will be taking over as skipper from Ernesto Bertarelli, paving the way for 2011 Team TILT crew Charles Favre (SUI) to jump onboard as helm. 2010 Danish sailor of the year and World Match Racing Tour champion from the same year, Christian Kamp, will take over from Britain’s Simon Hiscocks on the Danish entry. Making their Extreme 40 debuts in Qingdao are both Patrick Aucour, who will join Loick Peyron’s ZouLou in place of Antoine Joubert, and Romain Petit who will replace Adeline Chatenet on the all-French team Groupe Edmond de Rothschild.

Naples AC World Series: Day 1

April 12, 2012

After the first day of Championship Racing at the America’s Cup World Series in Naples, it’s clear this is an event at another level. From the fascinating opening ceremony, to the Easter Weekend crowds, to a thrilling first day of competing in strong wind as well as big waves, everything about the Naples experience is “più intense”.

Team Luna Rossa

Team Luna Rossa © Gilles Martin-Raget / ACEA

The racing has never been more competitive. The addition of the two Luna Rossa crews has ratcheted up the intensity level on the race course. Dean Barker’s Emirates Team New Zealand and Jimmy Spithill’s ORACLE Racing, separated by just one point on the 2011-12 AC World Series leaderboard, resumed battle on day one in Naples, and not surprisingly, neither team would give an inch. After two races, both have posted one-three on their scorecard to lead the fleet.

But young guns like Team Korea’s fearless Nathan “I hadn’t sailed a boat that big in that kind of wind” Outteridge and Energy Team’s Yann Guichard are nipping at their heels.

Off the water, local organisers estimated the crowd along the extended waterfront on the sunny holiday Monday at an incredible 250,000. This on the heels of a spectacular opening ceremony on Saturday evening, produced by the same group contracted for the Olympic Games in 2016 in Rio. It came to a dramatic conclusion – unplanned – as an powerful thunderstorm brought deep growls or thunder and flashes of lightning, to say nothing of a heavy downpour. But even the rain and hail couldn’t dampen expectation that Naples was going to put on something special for the America’s Cup World Series.

And so it has proved. The first half of the event will be hard to top. But everyone here is looking forward to the next four days.

Ky-mani Marley to appear LIVE at Antigua Sailing Week

April 12, 2012

Ky-mani Marley was born in Jamaica in 1976 and was just five when his legendary father Bob Marley passed away. At the age of nine he transfered with his mother to the inner-city of Miami and the mixture of cultures notably contributed to his music style of Urban Reggae.

Ky-mani Marley to appear LIVE at Antigua Sailing Week

Ky-mani Marley to appear LIVE at Antigua Sailing Week

From an early age Ky-Mani experimented with laying tracks, at times with his brothers, Stephen, Julian and Damian and made his debut album in 1996 titled ‘Like Father Like Son’ and his single; ‘Dear Dad’ which topped the British Reggae charts. Five albums and numerous tours were to follow. A sell-out concert in Miami was televised to 36 different countries and his 2001 album ‘Many More Roads’ was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album.

Fulfilling his name ‘adventurous traveler’ branching out from his music, Ky-mani Marley has also made a name for himself as an actor playing the lead role in the number one underground movies coming out of Jamaica. He played the lead role in the Kassa with co-star Cherine Anderson in One Love, a romantic comedy infused with the music and culture of Jamaica.

Ky-mani Marley produced his sixth studio album last year; ‘Maestro’. The result was an urban sound deeply rooted in the reggae and hip-hop cultures from his upbringing. Ky-mani Marley will be appearing LIVE at Antigua Sailing Week on Tuesday May 1st. The event will be start at 6pm in Nelson’s Dockyard and tickets cost EC$40 in advance, $EC50 on the door. On sale now at Antigua Yacht Club and the Antigua Hotel and Tourist Association.

Twenty Sailing Yachts by Nautor Swan to compete in the 27th Atlantic Rally for Cruiser (ACR)

April 11, 2012

The 27th Atlantic Rally for Cruiser (ARC) is already completely subscribed. More yachts have been given places this year, and there will be around 230 at the start of the rally on 25th November in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

Sailing yacht Swan 80

Sailing yacht Swan 80

Spaces in the ARC booked up faster than ever, surpassing the 2011 entry level by early February. The popularity of the rally remains undimmed; testimony to the founding principles of safe and fun ocean crossing.

This year there will once again be a strong Swan contingent within the fleet. Twenty Swans from eight different nations will be heading to warmer waters with models spanning 40 to 82 feet. Nautor’s Swan is always one of the most prominent boat builders to feature in the ARC, putting this unrivalled luxury sailing yacht brand in the top two most popular ARC fleet models. Swans are synonymous with ultimate ocean going performance and blue water comfort essential for the longer Atlantic crossing which can take up to 25 days to complete.

Sailing yacht Swan 82S

Sailing yacht Swan 82S

The RORC racing divisions have a healthy 42 entries, with good competition and fast crossing times promised from Swan 80 sailing yacht Berenice (ITA) and Swan 82S superyacht Nikata (GBR) at the larger end of the fleet.

ARC are also delighted to welcome back ‘Mr ARC’ Manfred Kerstan. A regular on the ARC pilgrimage having taken part in over a decade of these rallies, Manfred will be crossing again this year on his Swan 62RS yacht Albatros, twenty six years after his first ARC crossing.


Albatros, Swan 62 RS, Manfred Kerstan
Berenice, Swan 80, Marco Rodolfi
Cheri Hakatan, Swan 51, Ronald Wulff
Dream Citta di Rieti, Swan 47, Francesco Persio Pennesi
Eira, Swan 51, Sebastian Gylling
Embla, Swan 44, Gunnar Myhre
High Yield, Swan 45, Hanns Ostmeier
Jadran III, Swan 41, Giorgio John Squarcia
Lucky Swan, Swan 40, Cathelijne Los
Milanto, Swan 46, Valerio Bardi
Nikata, Swan 82S, Tom Brewer
Northern Child, Swan 51, Christian Reynolds
Selene, Swan 44, Adrian Lower
Senta, Swan 46, John and Karen Cole
Snow Wolf, Swan 48, Robert Nichols
Spirit, Swan 65, Michael Roberts
Storm Svale, Swan 40, Mike St. John
Sumatra, Swan 48, Shane Diethelm
Vahine, Swan 65, Stefan Abrahamsson
Zen, Swan 48, John Bainbridge

Swan Rally 2012 in Sydney

April 11, 2012

The last weekend in March provided 10 spectacular sailing yachts by Nautor Swan with the perfect Sydney day, characterised by sunshine as well as a pleasurable breeze, to fully enjoy all that Sydney Harbour has to offer.

Sailing yacht Swan 90

Sailing yacht Swan 90

The Swan Rally 2012 started perfect with Veuve Clicquot opening the proceedings at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia with each Swan crew in matching branded Swan Shirts, provided by Vicsail. It was very fitting that it ended perfectly with all the owners receiving beautiful Salvatore Ferragamo ties and scarves for the ladies.

The course for the Swan´s yachts was set out East to Shark Island, under the famous Harbour Bridge, and around Clark Island finishing back at Rushcutters Bay. The event was very special for all the owners with many of the Swans out for the first time in a while.

The owner of the sailing yacht Swan 90, Die Swaene provided the rock star excitement for the day, handing over the Skipper position to a long time sailing mate, Simon Le Bon, the 1980’s icon from rock band Duran Duran. After the rally, Simon joined everyone for the after race refreshments and camaraderie that the Swan fleet is renowned for – and mentioned that he looks forward to being part of the event next year!

The next three inductees to the America’s Cup Hall of Fame in 2012: Bertelli, Lambert and Wright

April 11, 2012

The Herreshoff Marine Museum together with the America’s Cup Hall of Fame today revealed the identity of the next three inductees to the America’s Cup Hall of Fame. Coming from three distinct America’s Cup eras two of them are Americans and one is Italian.

The next three inductees to the America's Cup Hall of Fame in 2012 Bertelli, Lambert and Wright Photo by Daniel ForsterAmerica´s Cup Hall of Fame

The next three inductees to the America's Cup Hall of Fame in 2012: Bertelli, Lambert and Wright Photo by Daniel Forster/America´s Cup Hall of Fame

Established in 1992 the America’s Cup Hall of Fame celebrates and recognizes the achievements of individuals within the sport of sailing and in particular the America’s Cup competition. On a regular basis several personalities are identified by the Hall of Fame Committee to be inducted. 2012 sees three more individuals chosen to join the ranks of those already inducted. The first person to be inducted this year, posthumously, is Gerard B. Lambert, Sr. (USA) – who was active in the periods 1930 to 1937, the second, Jonathan Wright (USA) – was active between 1974 and 1987 and the third, Patrizio Bertelli (ITA) – has been active continuously since 1997.

Gerard B. Lambert, Sr (b 1887 – d 1967) had an association with the America’s Cup that spanned the last three Cup cycles before the Second World War. In 1928 Lambert bought Vanitie, the unsuccessful Defender candidate of 1920, for the express purpose of converting her to the new J Class rule and using her as a trial horse for the four new American J Class yachts being built for the 1930 Defender trials. He was also a member of the syndicate that campaigned Weetamoe, one of those four new yachts.

In 1934 Lambert was one of the members of the syndicate that built and campaigned Rainbow the Defender candidate that successfully dispatched one of the most competitive challengers ever, the British charter yacht Endeavour. During this match there was however an incident in one of the races that led to controversy between the competitors. The Challenger, not believing the incident had been fairly handled by the regatta organisers, vowed never to return.

In 1935, Lambert personally took it upon himself to try and rectify the unfortunate situation by mounting an ambitious diplomatic and sporting campaign. He bought Yankee, another unsuccessful but ultimately competitive J Class yacht, sailed her across the Atlantic in a race against his other yacht the record-breaking schooner Atlantic, before competing in the entire UK regatta circuit over the following Summer months. Lambert’s initiative did much to reinvigorate motivation amongst the British yachting community for international competition such that a further challenge for the Cup came in 1937. Lambert was again a member of the syndicate that campaigned the Defender that year – Ranger.

Patrizio Bertelli (b 1946) has been sailing and racing yachts his whole life.  He has a passion for the America’s Cup and in 1997 he founded the Italian team, now known as the Luna Rossa Challenge.  Not the first Italian challenger Bertelli’s team is however the most dedicated. No other Italian syndicate has ever challenged more than twice.  The Luna Rossa Challenge has endeared itself to the Cup community by being efficient, stylish and always competitive and consequently doing a huge amount to build on the massive Italian popular following of the America’s Cup.

This team has now challenged for the America’s Cup four times, the first challenge saw them advance all the way through the Challenger Selection Series to win the Louis Vuitton Cup before being defeated by the Defender in the 30th Match in March 2000 in Auckland. Luna Rossa beat an American challenger candidate in the finals and the 2000 America’s Cup Match became the first Match in the event’s history without an American club involved.

Luna Rossa challenged again in 2003 and 2007 making it to the Louis Vuitton Cup semi finals and finals respectively. Luna Rossa has recently challenged for the 34th America’s Cup and brought a young international crew to tackle the new multi-hull world. Patrizio Bertelli recently announced in Palermo that, challenger or defender after the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco 2013 he will be back again with Luna Rossa. If this comes to pass Bertelli will equal the most prolific challenger of all times, Sir Thomas Lipton, with five attempts at wresting the America’s Cup.

Patrizio Bertelli is the CEO of the Prada Group.

Jonathan Wright (b 1953) is one of the unsung heroes of the12-Metre era in America’s Cup history. Two main reasons put Wright in this position.

The first reason is due to Wright’s sailing activities. Having crewed on board no fewer than five Defenders across a period of 13 years Wright is certainly made of the stuff that the Hall of Fame recognises. Wright’s contemporaries Dennis Conner, Ted Hood, Ted Turner and Tom Whidden have already been inducted for their contributions to America’s Cup history during the 12-Metre era, but if it hadn’t been for the skills of Wright and others trimming the sails on Intrepid, Courageous, Freedom, Liberty and Stars & Stripes things might not have worked out the way they did. Wright’s proven all-round ability within an America’s Cup campaign saw him tasked in 1985 with the huge responsibility of recruiting a squad of 25 sailors for the upcoming Stars & Stripes campaign of 1987, a campaign that would ultimately be successful in bringing the Cup back from Australia to America.

The second reason is due to Wright’s communicating activities. Over his America’s Cup career and since, Jon has shared his experiences and spread the message about the magic of the America’s Cup to thousands of people over the years by virtue of having given over 150 talks to audiences around the United States ranging in size from 40 to 450 at a time.

Jon Wright currently holds the Vanderstar Chair at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland.

Both Bertelli and Wright are past winners of the Louis Vuitton Cup on their first attempt.

The America’s Cup Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, jointly organized by the Herreshoff Museum and Louis Vuitton, will take place at the Marble House in Newport, RI on the evening of 29th June this year, at the same time as the America’s Cup World Series regatta in Newport (27 June-1 July), the final event in the first annual season of racing the new AC45 catamarans.

Marble House, on Bellevue Avenue in Newport, is a significant venue for this year’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Marble House belonged to Alva Belmont, the mother of Harold ‘Mike’ Vanderbilt, an early inductee into the Hall of Fame and syndicate member, with Lambert, of Rainbow and Ranger in 1934 and 1937. In 1983, Marble House was the setting for the America’s Cup Trophy presentation on the occasion of Australia II’s outstanding victory – the first Challenger to ever win a Match for America’s Cup.

Rolex China Sea Race 2012: South China Sea Brings True Offshore Challenge

April 11, 2012

2012 marked the golden anniversary of Asia’s premier offshore yacht race, the 565-nautical mile Rolex China Sea Race. The diverse 25-boat fleet varied from the sole participating Maxi, Geoff Hill’s sailing yacht Genuine Risk, which took the Sunday Telegraph Trophy for Line Honours as well as a Rolex Yacht-Master timepiece, to the many 50 and 40-footers racing to win the China Sea Race Trophy on corrected time.

Start of the 50th Anniversary Rolex China Sea Race

Start of the 50th Anniversary Rolex China Sea Race Photo by ROLEX/Daniel Forster

The Overall title on corrected time went to the Singaporean entry Zanzibar, who also laid claim to a Rolex Yacht-Master timepiece in addition to inscribing their victory in the record books of Rolex China Sea Race history.

“The race started a bit more complex than we thought,” said Geoff Hill of Genuine Risk’s experience on the South China Sea. “Our plan was to go south of the rhum line and come up and we effectively stuck with that.”

The softening of the breeze on the second day made breaking the current race record, established in 2000 by local yachtsman Karl Kwok on his Volvo 60 Beau Geste (elapsed time 47h 43m 07s), next to impossible. Genuine Risk needed to arrive in Subic Bay before 12:03 on Friday, 6 April (UTC +8) to set a new Rolex China Sea Race record. When she finally crossed the line it was over 14 hours later than the required record time.

“I think if we had gotten the breeze we could have broken the record,” said Hill, “we are pretty confident of that… but we didn’t get the breeze, and that’s what ocean racing’s all about.”

Hill has been racing the Rolex China Sea Race since 2004, although this was the first edition for him on Genuine Risk, a Dubois 90 Maxi with a canting keel, 16-foot draft, huge sails and enormous power. Previously, Hill raced onboard his TP52 Strewth, a boat about half the size of his current machine. Hill admitted to “feeling spoiled” after his Maxi experience on the South China Sea, and pre-race, his primary challenges were optimising the boat and preparing the 24-man crew in time for this year’s race start. “What is interesting about this race,” added Hill, “is that you just never know who it will be. The weather will actually determine who wins on handicap, because there are just so many variable patterns.”

GENUINE RISK, Geoff Hill Photo by RolexDaniel Forster

Sailing yacht GENUINE RISK Photo by Rolex/Daniel Forster

The 2012 race saw a clean start just off the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, with winds of 12-15 knots propelling the fleet out of Victoria Harbour. The superyacht Genuine Risk led the fleet the first evening followed by Neil Pryde’s Hi Fi. Almost 24 hours later, the surge in the monsoon, which was responsible for the race’s strong Harbour start, receded and was replaced by a south-easterly, forcing the crews into crucial tactical decisions. The fleet split, with the faster boats at the front – Genuine Risk, Hi Fi and Freefire – branching off to the South, while the rest of the fleet chose to head east, positioning themselves for the expected replenishment of the monsoon.

However, the forecasted breeze was fickle, and the second day of racing proved to be fairly frustrating, with poor winds and slowing speeds all around. By the third day conditions began to accelerate, giving an advantage to the boats with asymmetric sails like Genuine Risk, the TP52s and the “Hot” 40s, including Ambush and Sell Side Dream.

As predicted, it was Genuine Risk that finished first, on Saturday 7 April at 02:43.26 (UTC +8). “We enjoyed the race,” said Hill, “it was tactically very demanding because of all the changes in the breeze. This boat was out on the water for the first time in nearly 12 months; we also had a new crew and that’s all come together pretty well, so we are very pleased with the way it went.” The second boat into Subic Bay was Neil Pryde’s Hi Fi, finishing the same day at 16:00.54 (UTC +8). Pryde is a Rolex China Sea Race veteran, having participated in nearly every edition of the race since 1968.

His Welbourn 52 Hi Fi has been extremely successful offshore, counting line honours for the 2008 and 2010 editions of the Rolex China Sea Race, and overall winner in 2010, among her achievements. “The first night we got very good mileage down the track but the second day we just ran out of wind and had a very bad day,” explained Pryde. “We had a game plan to stay south and I think we lost out quite a lot. We didn’t get any wind and had a hard time, allowing the smaller boats to catch right up to us, but that’s yacht racing. We had a plan, we stuck to it, and sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t.”

Singapore entry Zanzibar made gains overnight going into the third day of racing, although the lead was changing regularly between a handful of competitors. Zanzibar reached the finish line at 20:44.48 on 7 April, putting intense pressure on the rest of the fleet to beat her on corrected time.

Jonathan Mahony, Owner/Skipper of Zanzibar explained that the team had a broad game plan to stay left of the rhum line, which ultimately paid off. “As soon as we saw an opportunity to head back out to the left we took it. We were looking great the second day, we caught a beautiful front running down across the gap and found ourselves in a nice position, while we saw everyone else parked up on the right. Things only got stressful and tense once we knew we were doing quite well on the big boats. We saw the others had a horrible park up and we were just trying to avoid doing the same ourselves. We had a couple of hairy moments but in the end we just managed to sneak in. We are absolutely satisfied, I mean, you will always have a few holes in this race, which can lead to a tactical nightmare, but we were expecting that. I would say we had a great race.”

EFG Bank Mandrake needed to finish before 01:15 local time on 8 April in order to topple Zanzibar’s lead, but with the still breeze off the finish, the team only crossed the line at 02:30.30, still finishing second in IRC Overall. Red Kite II, Australian Maid and Vega were also in the running for the Overall title, but by 13:30 (UTC +8) on 8 April the results for IRC Overall were in and it was Zanibar that took the title on corrected time, beating out the “big boats” and all other competitors on handicap. Hi Fi finished third in IRC Overall on corrected time.

Richard Killip, crew onboard the yacht Zanzibar, said the race went well for the team because they took an outside route. “It was good fun, it was challenging and we worked the boat incredibly hard. But it’s like Neil Pryde said in Hong Kong: you need an element of luck to be able to finish well, particularly coming into Subic. That’s true, and coming in through here, anything can happen.”

The 2012 edition of the Rolex China Sea Race proved once again that changing local conditions provide constant challenge and tactical re-evaluation as crews race out of Hong Kong to the Philippines on this 565-mile sprint. As Geoff Hill said, “I think the Rolex China Sea Race is one of the most underrated offshore races in terms of challenges, distance from shore, and range of conditions. You leave Hong Kong and you head offshore till you hit the finish. This isn’t a coastal cling, a Channel dash, or a Mediterranean meander. This is a genuine offshore event across a tricky, crowded, notorious seaway.”

As this year’s race comes to a close, all look forward to the next edition of the biennial Rolex China Sea Race; rendezvous in 2014 at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club for what promises to be another challenging adventure across the South China Sea.

US Ambassador in Italy to experience the Naples AC World Series

April 11, 2012

Ambassador David Thorne experienced the first day’s competing at the Naples AC World Series today, watching the two races up close from the support boat of America’s Cup champion ORACLE Racing.

ORACLE Racing Skipper Jimmy Spithill

ORACLE Racing Skipper Jimmy Spithill, U.S. Ambassador to Italy David Thorne, Regatta Director Iain Murray and Consul General Donald L. Moore at ACWS Naples - Photo by Guilain Grenier

“I would like to express my gratitude to the America’s Cup organizers and the beautiful city of Naples for hosting this prestigious event. It is a great honor to see this exciting racing, so I also sincerely thank Oracle for this opportunity. My grandfather sailed an America’s Cup defender many years ago, so sailing is in my blood,” said Ambassador Thorne.

His family connection is with the yacht Whirlwind, a trialist for the defense of the America’s Cup in 1934. ORACLE Racing is the official defense team for the 2013 America’s Cup in San Francisco.

As a keen sailor himself, the ambassador was disappointed when the sea conditions prevented him from competing in Race 1 aboard the ORACLE Racing boat skippered by America’s Cup champion James Spithill.

With the wind blowing over 20 knots and a rough sea, Regatta Director Iain Murray made the prudent choice that no additional crew would be carried in the “Guest Racer” position aboard the race yachts. But prior to the race the ambassador got an opportunity to go aboard for a short time and experience the AC45 race boat firsthand.

Nonetheless, the ambassador donned full sailing gear and, having witnessed one race from the water aboard the ORACLE Racing support boat, he asked to stay out for the second race.

The America’s Cup World Series comprises the 2011-12 and 2012-13 championships, staged in cities around the world and raced for in high-speed, next-generation AC45 Class wingsailed catamaran sailboats. It features the best sailors and fastest boats in the world.

The ACWS is a precursor to the America’s Cup itself, the oldest trophy in international sport and an iconic event which origins as far back as 1851. The America’s Cup finals, staged in ORACLE Racing’s home city of San Francisco in September 2013, will be contested in even bigger and faster AC72 class boats, but like the AC45 there is a special provision in the rules for one “Guest Racer” to be aboard each boat in every race.

“To have the U.S. ambassador visit our team and race on our boat made it a proud day for us,” said Spithill.

The Naples regatta is the third event of six in the 2011-12 America’s Cup World Series. Previous rounds were held last year in Cascais (Portugal), Plymouth (UK) and San Diego (USA). After Naples the 2011-12 championship moves to Venice (Italy) next month and then Newport, RI (USA) late in June where the championship will be decided.

Naples AC World Series: ORACLE Racing Spithill ties for daily win after two fleet races

April 11, 2012

At ACWS San Diego last November, ORACLE Racing Spithill reached the enviable double, winning both the match racing as well as fleet racing championships. Today in difficult conditions on the Bay of Naples, ORACLE Racing Spithill won the first fleet race going away. The quintet followed it up with a 3rd in Race 2 and finished the day tied for the overall lead with Emirates Team New Zealand.

ORACLE Racing Spithill ties for daily win after two fleet races

ORACLE Racing Spithill ties for daily win after two fleet races Photo: Guilain Grener/Team USA

“It was pretty bumpy out there, pretty challenging, but once again I was really impressed by these boats. I think they give the best racing in the world in these conditions,” said skipper Jimmy Spithill. “We had two really good starts and after that it was about the tacks. You had to pick a flat spot. That’s where there were huge gains and losses.”

With the wind blowing steadily in the 20s and a choppy sea running at 6 to 8 feet, the conditions were rougher today than even in the more sheltered Plymouth, U.K., last September, widely considered the windiest regatta. ORACLE Racing Spithill wasn’t without its own troubles.

“We broke a couple of wing frames in the first race so we backed off a bit in the second race,” Spithill said.

A few crews were hurt by the conditions: Artemis Racing retired late in the first race after capsizing and suffering damage to the top of the wingsail, China Team also withdrew late in the first race and ORACLE Racing Bundock didn’t start the second fleet race after placing fifth in the first.

Teams competing in the Naples AC World Series

Teams competing in the Naples AC World Series Photo: Guilain Grener/Team USA

“Tacking well, not capsizing like Artemis Racing, and not breaking your boat like some of the other teams was the key for success today,” said ORACLE Racing Spithill tactician John Kostecki.

ORACLE Racing Bundock had a good start in the first race and slipped around the leeward mark in second place, but was penalized twice on the first upwind leg for crossing outside the racecourse boundary.

The crew retired in between races because of damage to its hull caused by the large waves.

“The massive waves were the main issue,” said skipper Darren Bundock. “For us, we didn’t hit anything but we buckled the hull from the hatch cover down about 20 cm. It came from the impact of bouncing off the waves.”

ORACLE Racing Spithill

ORACLE Racing Spithill Photo: Guilain Grener/Team USA

ORACLE Racing Spithill will be ready to race tomorrow. The shore team was working on ORACLE Racing Bundock, mindful that low air temperatures were not ideal for repairing high-tech epoxy and carbon-fiber race boats.

“We have one of the best, if not the best, shore teams here,” commented Spithill.

Today’s two fleet races served as a seeding for tomorrow’s match racing. In QF1, ORACLE Racing Spithill races ORACLE Racing Bundock in a heat scheduled for approximately 16 minutes in length. The winner advances to the second semifinal match on Saturday while the loser is assigned 7th place for the match racing championship.

Three match races are planned tomorrow ahead of two fleet races.

Naples AC World Series: Thrills, spills and close racing to open the yacht race

April 11, 2012

Naples started in amazing fashion on Wednesday as strong winds and big waves created menacing racing conditions. The AC45 catamaran yachts, powered by their strong wing sails, were leaping out of the water, launched into the air by the heavy sea state.

Thrills, spills and close racing to open the Naples AC World Series

Thrills, spills and close racing to open the Naples AC World Series © ACEA 2012/ Photo Gilles Martin-Raget

“It’s cool, the sailing is pretty awesome, you can’t complain when you’re sailing in conditions like that,” said Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker, who sits at the top of the leaderboard after two fleet races. “But it’s very challenging for the boats and very taxing for the crew. The goal was to get back to the dock in one piece, which we did – it’s nice to be back in good shape.”

Barker and his team clawed back from deep in the fleet in race one to finish in third place. In the second race, they were able to secure a win, putting them on equal points with ORACLE Racing Spithill who also have a 1-3 on their scorecard. Barker’s team gets the nod on the tiebreak by winning the last race.

Team Luna Rossa

Team Luna Rossa © ACEA 2012/ Photo Gilles Martin-Raget

Close behind are two teams who put in an outstanding performance on a challenging day. Team Korea, with young skipper Nathan Outteridge sailing his very first AC World Series regatta posted a 4-2 to sit equal on points with Energy Team, who mirrored their score.

“We couldn’t expect much more than that,” Outteridge said. “The big guns are ahead of us. But we’re overachieving compared with expectations, so we’re very, very happy.”

Not surprisingly in the difficult conditions, there were teams who finished the day less content. Terry Hutchinson was leading his Artemis Racing team to a solid second place in the first race when both bows buried in impressive fashion as he rounded the top mark. The front of the boat kept going down, the wind pushing the wing over, until they capsized.

Strong winds and big waves created menacing racing conditions

Strong winds and big waves created menacing racing conditions © ACEA 2012/ Photo Gilles Martin-Raget

“It was a balance between racing the boat hard and not putting ourselves in a position of risk,” Hutchinson explained. “I don’t really feel like we put ourselves at risk but still we ended up on our side. It’s just very frustrating… Luckily no one’s injured, but the wing is absolutely broken… It’s a real bummer, the boat was so well prepared and sorted for the regatta, and we’ve been going well in training, so all in all a pretty big disappointment.”

China Team too suffered minor damage to its wing and didn’t finish the first race, or start the second. ORACLE Racing Bundock suffered some damage to one of its hulls after flying off a wave and landing hard in race one, which ended their day. But skipper Darren Bundock said he was confident his shore team would have them ready to race for Thursday.

Both Luna Rossa crews, making their AC World Series debut turned in solid, if not spectacular performances to sit mid-fleet after the first day.

Team Korea

Team Korea © ACEA 2012/ Photo Gilles Martin-Raget

The program for Thursday starts with Match Racing, the pairings determined by today’s results, followed by two Fleet Races and the Fleet Racing Championship continues. The first Match Race start is 1330 CEST.

Provisional Standings after Day One:
1. Emirates Team New Zealand (Skipper: Dean Barker)
2. ORACLE Racing – Spithill (Skipper: James Spithill)
3. Team Korea (Skipper: Nathan Outteridge)
4. Energy Team (Skipper: Yann Guichard)
5. Luna Rossa – Swordfish (Helmsman: Paul Campbell-James)
6. Luna Rossa – Piranha (Helmsman: Chris Draper)
7. ORACLE Racing – Bundock (Skipper: Darren Bundock)
8. Artemis Racing (Skipper: Terry Hutchinson)
9. China Team (Skipper: Fred Le Peutrec)